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North Korean Posters: The David Heather Collection Hardcover – 11 Apr 2008

3.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Prestel; 01 edition (11 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3791339672
  • ISBN-13: 978-3791339672
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 20.3 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 773,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"...insights into probably the most secretive country in the world." -- The Times, May 10th, 2008


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By Robin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 29 April 2008
Format: Hardcover
To quote from Koen De Ceuster in the book's intro: 'Only if the poster appeals to the ideological and aesthetic sentiments of the people will it succeed in truly rousing the people'. The cynical might conclude because the people were not truly roused by these posters is a good enough reason to explain why the economy of the DPRK is in such a ramshackle state and not likely to improve in the coming years.

The 250 reproduced are pretty lackluster in their creativity. This becomes apparent when compared to Soviet Posters (published by Prestel in 2007 and the same size and format) though admittedly they developed over several decades and had the benefit of talent like Lissitzky, Govorkov and Rodchenko to create political masterpieces. With a closed society like North Korea where creativity emanated from the two Kims should anyone expect anything better.

Despite a sameness to many of the images some do stand out. A poster on page 233 is an interesting painting of four horsemen with flags, riding into the future (where else!). As with so many posters shown the groupings are the same: a soldier; woman farmer; steel worker; intellectual. The painting style looks quite contemporary though. On page 251 a diesel engine done in a very graphic style with the side of the unit incorporating bold type, the poster headline is in the same perspective as the engine. There are no dates or artists mentioned in any of the captions and looking through the pages I get the impression that maybe the bulk of the posters were created by a small group of artists and designers.

There is a chapter called Undeterred Defiance, with forty-five works hurling abuse and dire consequences at the US and some of these look several decades old.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an interesting book of 250 posters similar in many ways to Soviet and Chinese posters but much more agressive in content.
There are 5 concepts illustrated a)constructing the country b)defying enemies c)loyalty and devotion d)defence and e)loyalty The paintings are quite good and very expressive although rapetative at times.
On page 15 the author states that portraits of the Kims have not been produced,this is incorrect as I was presented with one showing both Kims on a visit to Pyongyang but I no longer have it.
A very annoying feature of the book is that captions to the posters are orinted vertically at the side of the page consequentially the book has to be turned to read them.
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Format: Hardcover
The posters themselves are very good and very interesting but the presentation of the book itself is a little frustrating. As the other reviews have mentioned, the captions (the translations of the slogans) are inexplicably written vertically along the side of each poster - which means you have to turn the book on it's side twice on every double page spread. As you can imagine, that can get pretty tedious. I would have also like a bit more detail with the translations. The captions are only translations of the slogans - this means that other text in the posters (Korean characters on flags or on books featured within the pictures) are left untranslated which isn't helpful for people who don't speak Korean. Another extremely poor oversight is the fact that none of the posters are dated (unless there's actually a date within the art - which accounts for about 5 posters in total). The collection as a whole are posters from 1950 to the present day but that is very broad and seeing as we aren't given dates of when the posters were first designed or published we cannot put them in the correct context. I'd recommend this book to only the most avid and interested North Korea watchers but even those people will find it lacking in a few fundamental areas.
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The posters are nice (in a mental regime kind of way) but I felt moved to write after reading the forewords. Both read like apologists to the dictatorial, murderous and brainwashing regime. Very worrying. In fact the DPRK embassy is thanked by the owner of the poster collection. Very little mention is made of the malicious and frightening purpose for which these posters exist: explicit mind control, Stalinist hero-worshiping and an attempt to keep the country on a war like footing (a war the nation grows up thinking was not their fault). It might not put you off buying it (maybe it shouldn't) but I did find it particularly shocking.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great pictures.
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